Why employees leave

Friday, April 27th, 2018

I have had a number of conversations lately about why employees leave.

Recently a client told me he was holding focus groups with his employees to establish what they looked for in an employer.  In common with most businesses he is in a tough market for finding and retaining staff.  I congratulated him on engaging with his staff this way and on realising that employing people is a market and you need a unique selling proposition.

What I was less sure about was the sort of things he felt would make a difference, like an extra day of holiday or better overtime rates.

Another client recently told me he has introduced a bonus scheme for his employees.  He was prompted to do this by a long-serving employee leaving to pursue another interest and because he has struggled to recruit uniformly good people.

Both of these approaches seem completely rational in the circumstances but I think display a lack of understanding about why people move between organisations.

It is rarely for money.  Only if the rewards are seen to be unfair (by reference to peers inside or outside the organisation) do people leave for more.  Sometimes it may be because they don’t see a career path – again, this may be about money on the face of it but actually it’s about progression and recognition.

People join organisations because they want to be part of something that looks exciting and worthwhile.  They leave because it turns out to be frustrating, boring and stressful.  This may be caused by erratic, intrusive, bullying or disengaged supervision, inadequate tools, systems and resources, a dysfunctional team environment – or anything else that prevents an employee from succeeding and results in a repeated, pervasive sense of failure.

What keeps people engaged is repeated success and a feeling (reinforced by customer feedback) that the team and individual are great at what they do.

It’s much easier to concoct a bonus scheme than it is to build a winning team – but the latter is what attracts and keeps great employees.

If you want to learn more about building a winning team then you should register for our next event.

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